“When people work, their wages are not a gift. Workers earn what they receive. But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work.” Romans 4:4-5 NLT
Read these verses over and over. What is the Holy Spirit whispering to you?
A question keeps running through my head, are you righteous? To answer this question, we need to understand what righteousness is. There are at least three different ways to understand righteous. It is used as slang to mean genuine or excellent. The way that most church lay people use it is morally right but in doctrine or theology it means free from guilt or sin. The Greek word means justified, innocent or holy. So now that we know the definition, are you righteous?
This is a tough and difficult thing to fully comprehend. In the time of Jesus, the religious leaders of the day believed righteousness come from keeping the law. They earned righteousness. Paul points out that this makes no sense. If we work hard then we expect to be paid. It is owed to us but to be righteous, perfect, innocent, means we have no sin. That is humanly impossible. Meaning we can’t earn righteousness. We are born sinners.
Paul describes it this way in verse 3: “What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Abraham was righteous not because of his work but because of his faith. We can get lost in the debate and the particulars but how does this relate to me?
The law is important, but it is not meant to be a bat to beat us over the head with. It is there to show us that we are sinners who aren’t righteous but wicked. We can’t earn righteousness. God didn’t leave us in this hopeless state. He delivered us by providing a way, a free gift, not eared but given. It is received through faith. We believe that we need a Savior and we believe that Jesus is our Savior therefore we are saved.
This affects us in how we live. If we just go through the motions, doing what we think is right we will get lost in the doing never knowing real love and never living out that love. If we turn our lives over to God through faith, then love will overflow from within us and we will live in righteousness. It isn’t the act but the motive behind the act. We are judged by our hearts. Have you allowed God in your heart or is it full of the world, sin? Do you have faith in God or self? Faith in God saves, faith in self condemns.